by Joseph Mack
I have been on a photo tour to Tuscany, Italy and loved every minute of it. It is definitely an amazing way to discover Tuscany and learn how to take great photos with a professional photographer.
When I got to Florence, I had a walk along the Lungarno, enjoyed the lights reflecting on the river and stopped for an aperitivo near Ponte Vecchio, just relaxing and soaking up the incredible atmosphere of this unique city.
We started with some street photography in the marvellous centre of Florence, taking pictures of wonderful sights and Florentine everyday life. After lunch, we had a nice walk uphill to reach Piazzale Michelangelo, the most beautiful terrace overlooking the historical city centre where we took some breath-taking pictures of the city and of the bronze replica of David that dominates the Piazzale.
After breakfast, we carried on with our discovery of the city of Florence and took a guided visit of Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, where we took pictures of incredible masterpieces of Donatello and Michelangelo. Then we had the incredible opportunity to access the amazing Terraces of the Duomo of Florence, not open to the general public, and admire from a different point of view Brunelleschi’s cupola.
After lunch, we left Florence to enjoy one of the most magnificent drives towards Siena through the Florentine Chianti hills. Along the way, we stopped in a typical Chianti winery for a wine tasting and more pictures.
Whilst sipping some tasty Chianti wine we looked for more interesting spots in the countryside.
Whne we go to Siena, we checked in at the very central hotel we had been booked at and enjoyed a lovely Sienese dinner in the restaurant. Pici cacio e pepe washed with more Chianti wine is a perfect welcome to Siena!
Today was entirely dedicated to the stunning Val d’Orcia. After breakfast, we took a scenic drive from Siena towards Montalcino, where we stopped to visit the gorgeous town and, later, the amazing Abbazia di Sant’Antimo. Then we were guests at a local farm where we had the chance to have a real Tuscan lunch based on home-made Pappardelle with wild boar and Brunello di Montalcino! With our tummies full of such amazing food, we waved goodbye to our friendly hosts and carried on towards San Quirico d’Orcia, Pienza and Asciano.
The Val D’Orcia is one of the most famous areas of Tuscany, set of many worldwide celebrated movies and famous for the most iconic picture of Tuscany, the one of the cypresses in the fields, that’s why we went looking for this spot and took our own picture, giving our own interpretation of it.
This was an amazing day for landscape pictures, but the small towns that we visited offered great opportunities for street and architectural photography.
Tonight, I had free time for dinner and decided to book in a restaurant located in Piazza del Campo, amazing view, good food and more Chianti!
We visited the extraordinary town of Volterra and stopped by one of the alabaster artisans to watch him work and take pictures of his knowledgeable hands shaping the matter. It is amazing to find out how many things can be created with alabaster!
Fascinating Volterra is not only known for being a haven of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance art, but also for being the set of the book and movie New Moon, part of the Twilight saga. This is why we created our own fiction following the steps of Bella and Edward and had fun just like kids.
In the afternoon, we left for another stunning town, San Gimignano, where we took more pictures and had the best ice-cream in the world! Again, from San Gimignano you have amazing views of the countryside, but its streets, always crowded with locals and tourists offer interesting sets for some portraits.
Tired, but happy, we went back to our hotel and had another tasty dinner at its restaurant. If it’s cold, there nothing like hot ribollita, but if it’s hot, you may as well try the same dish, but cold, now you are ready to be a real Sienese!
Day 6 – Today is entirely dedicated to the hidden gem of Tuscany, Siena.
“Cor magis tibi sena pandit” (Siena shows a heart that is bigger than this gate) is carved on the stone of Porta Camollia, one of the portals of the Medieval walls of Siena and our guide challenged us to picture the heart of Siena. But, Sienese people are actually very jealous of these traditions and suspicious with anyone who was not born inside its walls, this added some difficulty to our task, but made it more interesting.
In the morning, we visited the historical centre, the Cathedral (external) and Piazza del Campo, world-famous for the Palio horse race, before ending the tour in one of the Contradas, where we visited the Museum under the guide of a Contradaiolo (member of the Contrada). Again, this was possible thank to our local agent from A Tuscan Tale, as Contradas are not usually open to the general public.
Later, I chose my favourite picture of the week and learnt how to edit and print it. I am so so happy to have a print of the picture to take home with me, this will add to the great memories of this incredible week.
The farewell dinner was very tasty and very emotional, I really look forward to see the incredible people that I met during my experience in Tuscany. The guides were very good, always kind and comprehensive when giving explanations, and our local tour leader was amazing and enthusiastic – they all really made my time in Tuscany. If after reading this you would like to enjoy a tour just like this one, or just get more info about it, you can contact Daniela who is with A Tuscan Tale, the tour organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.